Recently, a friend of mine in Ohio who has a transgender child was sent an angry, anonymous letter gloating about Trump’s victory, and the fact that, “There won’t be no more special rights for you people.” The missive was full of grammatical errors, misspellings, and used capital letters to emphasize how much she really hates the notion of being legally prevented from discriminating against transgender people.
This random screed would have been comical, except for the fact that Housing and Urban Development Secretary and former presidential candidate Ben Carson said almost the same thing during his congressional hearings when asked about protections for LGBT people: “I have mentioned in the past that no one gets extra rights. Extra rights means you get to redefine everything for everybody else.”
Carson said this without a trace of irony. His definition of “special rights” is basically legal protection from discrimination. This is funny, because he’s enjoyed more legal and employment protection than anyone I know. He’s protected by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as a black person and as a man. He’s constitutionally protected at the highest legal level of scrutiny from discrimination on the basis of race or religion. At John’s Hopkins University, he was protected by “academic freedom,” meaning he couldn’t be fired for anything he said or did as long as it wasn’t blatantly criminal. He took full advantage of this while there under an administration with a long history of tolerance for bigotry and discrimination.
Nearly universally, the people decrying “special rights” for “those people” (whoever they may be) come from the Christian Right. The irony is the people decrying “special rights” have more special rights than anyone else in our society. These individuals want the freedom to discriminate against LGBT people based on their religion, but they would fight tooth and nail against LGBT people (or anyone else) being legally allowed to discriminate against them for being Christian in the first place. They seem unaware of the hypocrisy and privilege of this, We should have the right to discriminate against them but it is unconstitutional for them to discriminate against us attitude.
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